Elements of a Thesis
A traditional Master's thesis contains the elements described below and should be the length and quality of a publishable monograph or journal article in your area of study. The key elements are briefly described as follows: (The University Graduate School's requirements are at http://www.brown.edu/academics/gradschool/masters-thesis-guidelines
- Cover page: Title of the thesis and the author's name.
- Title page: Title of the thesis and the author's name. Include a short statement indicating that the thesis has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master's degree in Environmental Studies.
- Signature page: A statement indicating that the thesis has been accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master's degree in Environmental Studies, with space for signatures by your principal and supporting academic advisors and your outside readers.
- Acknowledgments: An optional personal statement.
- Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures: A comprehensive listing of chapter headings, including all sub-headings, and all tables and figures included in the text and appendices. Be sure to include a conveniently located table listing all abbreviations commonly used in your thesis
- Abstract: A one page, single-spaced summary of your thesis question, the method(s) used to address the question, your results, and your conclusion(s). You should examine several examples of abstracts from leading, peer-reviewed journals in y our area of specialization to determine the expected level of detail, style and point of view. Your abstract is very important. A digital copy will be posted on international bulletin boards and included in the CES webpage. Your abstract should enable readers from diverse backgrounds to decide whether they would like to obtain a digital copy of your thesis in order to read further.
- Body of the thesis: Includes Introduction, Background, Methods, Results, and Conclusion.
- Introduction-should include a general overview of your thesis topic, including a general description of the organizational structure of your thesis.
- Background section(s)-should include a review of the literature in your area of study, and/or the history of the environmental problem under investigation. (In publication format, these sections are often combined).
- Methods section-If your thesis topic involves collecting original natural or social science data, this section must completely describe and reference your sampling design, and data gathering and analytical methods. If your thesis relies upon secondar y sources of data, this section should describe the origin and background of the data sufficient to enable a reader in your area of specialization to gauge the reliability of the information.
- Results-This is the key analytical portion of your thesis. This section(s) should typically include summaries of your data, and your analysis and interpretation of results within the context of your overall thesis question.
- Conclusion-This section should summarize your major observations and present your conclusions, including your recommendations for further study and/or solutions to your identified problem(s) where appropriate.
As indicated in the introduction to this document, the Center emphasizes practical application of knowledge and analytical approaches derived from a variety of disciplines that affect environmental decision-making. Students who elect to focus on a contemporary public policy problem may find that the organizational structure described above does not entirely meet their needs. In this case, the structure of the thesis may be modified with the advice and approval of your thesis advisor(s). This might espe cially be the case for thesis problems where draft legislation is the appropriate outcome, or where a co-sponsoring organization expects a final report or product organized and submitted according to the organization's specifications.